Never Alone

A common critique with a lot of environmental advocacy platforms and public awareness campaigns is a lack of inclusivity, particularly in erasing or ignoring Indigenous presence. E-Line Media developed the interactive game Never Alone, in 2015, pairing with Indigenous Alaskan storytellers and elders to illustrate and explore Iñupiat lore. Most nature-themed games and apps focus on immersion with animals and nature as nearly a passive, separate observer. Generally, Western culture reinforces a hierarchy whereby humankind is above and separate from all other species. For the Iñupiat, and many other Indigenous communities, there is a much more egalitarian, communal, and often spiritual view of nature, and the game is reflective of this worldview. The game follows young Kie as she braves the harsh, wild winter world of Alaska, with her arctic fox companion. While survival and adventure are key aspects of the game, Kie’s journey is deeply educational and spiritual, her quests mirroring the traditional stories passed down by elders that highlight the spiritual and cultural connectivity with both the animate and inanimate elements of nature; because of the connection with her environment, Kie is never alone. Elders and storytellers who are their community’s cultural conduits spoke with game developers to craft the game, having a role in design, plot, and story. Never Alone premiered as the first in a series of a new genre of “World Games” for E-Line media that intends to “draw fully upon the richness of unique cultures to create complex and fascinating game worlds for a global audience.” While there are some valid concerns about profiting from the commercialization and reduction of Indigenous culture, consult and genuine involvement are highlighted as central features of the game and its creation as seen in the multiple interviews with community elders and leaders that appear to enthusiastically support the game and goal of the project.


Aesthetic/Leisure, Psychology